There are nights when shots just won’t fall. Just ask Abilene Christian. However, defense can keep you in a ball game in that situation. And for Brette Tanner and ACU, it’s what led to their first win of the season at Texas Arlington.
California Baptist continued its roll to start the season. WAC Freshman of the Week Taran Armstrong had another double-double and five Lancers scored in double figures. Chicago State suffered its first lost at the hands of a fellow in-state school who recently made a Final Four run. Tarleton keeps itself in games but struggles down the stretch. UTRGV beat up on a non-DI opponent. So just you usual night of WAC Hoops.
Here are some thoughts from Tuesday night.
ACU Defense Leads to OT Win
Do you want to know how bad of a game offensively it was for the Wildcats on Tuesday night? ACU shot 27 percent from the field in regulation. 27 percent. However, the Wildcats found a way and they did it in their traditional fashion of playing defense. The Wildcats forced 28 turnovers and had 15 steals in the contest. Without that defensive effort, there was no shot (pun intended) for ACU to win the game.
Just when you thought ACU was going to suffer its third straight loss, a prayer was answered for the religious school. Immanuel Allen put up a shot that out of his hands looked awful with one second to play. Prayer answered. The shot went down and the Wildcats forced overtime.
The game-tying THREE!@immanuel_allen#NewJourneySameGoal | #GoWildcats pic.twitter.com/sVQmzDkbTP
— ACU Basketball (@ACU_MBB) November 17, 2021
In the OT period, ACU’s defense ramped up and UT-Arlington really had no answer. The Wildcats outscored the Mavericks 17-8 in the extra frame and Brette Tanner got his first career win as a head coach.
Taran Armstrong is Really, Really Good
CBU freshman guard Taran Armstrong is good. It’s that simple. Armstrong is the WAC Freshman of the Week after averaging nearly a double-double in two wins last week. The 6-5 guard from Tasmania averaged around 12 points and 8 assists last week. And on Tuesday night, Armstrong had another stellar outing with 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
Taran Armstrong is tonight’s Player of the Game!#LanceUp⚔️ pic.twitter.com/QETHVJyZyC
— California Baptist Men's Basketball ??? (@CBUmbb) November 17, 2021
Yes, the three games have been against less than stellar competition. However, that does not take away anything that Armstrong has done to open the 2021-22 season. According to a few people, Armstrong’s ability to handle the basketball is next level and he is only going to get better as the season goes along.
Chicago State Undermanned at Crosstown Foe
357 vs. 33. 33-point underdog. It was bound to happen at some point. Loyola-Chicago is just that good and Chicago State couldn’t keep up with the Ramblers. Here is the good news. Chicago State still shot 40 percent from the floor. WAC Player of the Week Brandon Betson had 21 points and four assists. And the Cougars stayed within 12 in the second half.
People will look at this 92-56 loss and say this is the same old Chicago State. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it isn’t. I tend to think it isn’t. The Cougars hit 10 3-pointers in the contest and out-rebounded the Ramblers. 26 turnovers hurt. But what do you expect from a team filled with a lot of freshman? I’m not saying the Cougars are going to win 10 or 20 ball games. But the mentality is different under first-year head coach Gerald Gillion. There will be growing pains but this team is better than in years’ past on the Southside of the Windy City.
Is Lack of Depth Catching Up to Tarleton Late in Games?
The lack of depth for Tarleton has been acknowledged in previous articles. With some starters averaging nearly 40 minutes per game through the first two contests of the season, it seems to be a significant issue. On Tuesday at Wichita State, Montré Gipson played 40 minutes. Shakur Daniel played 39 minutes. Noah McDavid and Freddy Hicks both played over 30 minutes. Let’s be real. Certain players playing 30-plus minutes in a close game is normal. But, if you have watched Tarleton’s three games to open the 2021-22 season, you see a fade late.
On Tuesday night at Wichita State, Gipson hit a pair of free throws that made it a 7-point deficit with 5:36 to play. But, the Texans couldn’t get a stop from there on out. At Kansas on Friday, Tarleton was within nine with 16 minutes to play before the game got away from the Texans. And in the season opener at Stanford, Johnathan Jackson’s dunk with 14:17 to play gave the Texans a 35-28 lead. And then the wheels came off in the 12-point loss.
This team will get over the hump and finish a game late at some point. There is no doubt about that. But keeping an eye on the minutes played will be an interesting thing to watch as the season progresses.